Original Article

Virtual Reality

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 241-252

First online:

Virtual reality and its role in removing the barriers that turn cognitive impairments into intellectual disability

  • P. J. StandenAffiliated withDivision of Rehabilitation and Ageing, School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nottingham Email author 
  • , D. J. BrownAffiliated withSchool of Computing and Informatics, Nottingham Trent University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Early expectations of the contribution that virtual reality (VR) could make to education far exceeded actual applications. This was largely due to the initial immaturity of the technology and a lack of evidence base on which to base design and utilisation. While the early developments in computer based learning largely concentrated on mainstream education, leaving those with special needs behind, the potential of VR as an educational tool was exploited for those with intellectual disabilities right from the start. This paper describes the empirical evidence that has contributed to the development of educational virtual reality for those with intellectual disabilities: studies on transfer of learning from the virtual to the real world; how teachers might support those using VR; the design of virtual environments and what input/control devices best facilitate use of desktop VR. Future developments and ethical issues are also considered.


Virtual reality Education Intellectual disability Cognitive impairments Tutor User sensitive inclusive design